Every Wednesday night while UT is in session the astronomy department sponsors free public star parties on the top roof of Robert Lee Moore Hall, which is located at the southeast corner of Dean Keeton (formerly 26th street) and Speedway. Once you reach RLM, take the elevators to the 17th floor and then follow the signs to the stairs up to the telescope.
Click here for map to RLM and nearby parking garages. All ages are welcome, but we ask that younger children be under adult supervision at all times. Viewing times change throughout the year so please check this page for current times before planning your visit. Please call 512-232-4265 for weather cancellation information. (This line is updated approximately 30-45 minutes before the scheduled start time.)
If you are interested in bringing a small group of 15 or fewer, you may come to a public viewing night without prior arrangements. If you plan on bringing a group of more than 15, please notify Lara Eakins at least two weeks in advance to avoid having too many groups show up on the same evening. Please note: we do not do private events for groups or individuals.
A typical night will include a planet or two, binary stars, star clusters and maybe one of the brighter nebulae. Because of the location of the building, it is difficult to see many of the fainter objects. Although we are using a 16 inch telescope, the skyglow still makes it difficult. To learn more about what you can do to help control light pollution, check out the International Dark Sky Association web page.
History of the 16 inch telescope
The telescope was purchased from Group 128 in 1977 at a cost of about $18,500. It was primarily used for teaching undergraduate astronomy majors the processes involved in modern astronomical observation and for graduate student projects. After time, the telescope began to suffer from wear and tear. So in 1997, a grant proposal was approved by the National Science Foundation with matching funds from a generous private donor. In July 1998, the telescope was re-fit with a state-of-the-art mount and new clock drive at a cost of $50,000. The telescope is controlled from a Dell desktop computer using contol software called PC-TCS.
Click here to see a gallery of photos taken through this telescope.